Jan 06, 2017

Rikkyo University holds Sumo Workshop on December 10



Fourteen international students from nine countries, who are currently enrolled at Rikkyo University, participated in an event that allowed them to try their hand at the traditional Japanese sport of sumo on Saturday Dec. 10, by mingling with members of the university’s sumo team.

The university’s Sumo Workshop event allowed foreign students to don a mawashi belt and practice such movements as shiko, suriashi and teppo under the instruction of members of the sumo team, with whom—much to the participants’ delight—they were able to interact. The participants then sampled chanko-nabe, a Japanese traditional pot dish commonly served to sumo wrestlers.

“I’m interested in traditional Japanese culture,” one participant said. “I signed up as soon as I learned there would be an event to allow us to experience sumo. It was the most valuable experience I’ve had since coming to Japan.”

The sumo team, which was established in 1919, is one of Japan’s oldest and strongest university sumo clubs. In recent years, however, it has suffered from a shortage of members.

In 1992, director Masayuki Suo, a Rikkyo University alumni, released “Sumo Do, Sumo Don’t,” a film modeled after the sumo team. In the film, British student George Smiley joins a university sumo club as a “helper,” elevating the club to the second-tier level. (Suo’s film was selected as Best Picture at the 16th Japan Academy Film Prize and the 35th Blue Ribbon Awards.)

The sumo team urged the overseas students who participated in the event to join the club, in hopes of discovering one or more Smiley-like individuals among them.

The event was voluntarily organized by young university staffers to help promote further internationalization at the university, which has been selected as a Top Global University by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The event was designed to offer international students the chance to experience Japanese culture while simultaneously allowing the Japanese students, who are normally busy with their club activities, to engage in international exchange.

During the previous academic year, the university organized an event that allowed 20 foreign students to learn first-hand about the Japanese martial art of kendo.

Rikkyo University is headed by President Tomoya Yoshioka; the main campus is located in Toshima Ward, Tokyo.

Outline of Sumo Workshop

Date and time
2 p.m.–5 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016

Sumo ring in Niiza Campus gymnasium, Rikkyo University

About 25 in total (including sumo team and foreign students)

Under the auspices of sumo team members, participants warmed up, donned a mawashi belt and practiced such movements as shiko, suriashi and teppo, while physically interacting with members of the team. Following the training session, they tucked into chanko-nabe.

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